The history of Major League Baseball spring training actually begins in Arkansas, if you can believe it. The modern version of what we consider spring training began in 1914 when the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians decided to spend their training period in Florida before the regular season. Pretty soon, all the other MLB teams followed.
That is until former Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck decided to train his squad in Tucson, Arizona in 1946. The New York Giants soon followed and the Cactus League was officially born.
In 1952, the Chicago Cubs became the third team to play their preseason in Arizona when they moved to Mesa’s Rendezvous Park. It was the start of spring training in Mesa, a tradition that hasn’t abated yet. Many teams and multiple stadiums have come and gone but today you’ll find two of each to enjoy every February and March before the regular season rolls around.
Hohokam Stadium – Mesa
This Hohokam Stadium is actually different from the one that was here back in 1976. The original field was built in 1976, just east of the site of today’s version. Built in 1997, the new Hohokam Stadium, which also goes by Dwight W. Patterson Field, has spent time as the spring training home of both the Oakland Athletics and Chicago Cubs. The Cubs called the stadium home from 1997 to 2014 and the A’s, who had previously played in the original Hohokam Stadium, moved in during the 2014 season and remain the main attraction today.
Today, the 10,500-seat stadium not only boasts great views of the surrounding mountain ranges but also includes the largest scoreboard in the Cactus League. And given the green and gold colors are strewn throughout, there’s no denying that this is the home of the A’s, at least for a few months a year.
Hohokam Stadium is the site of the first game of the 2019 Cactus League season as the A’s host the Seattle Mariners on February 21. In total, the A’s will play 12 times in Mesa during spring training between then and March 13. Some of those games are split squad, which means one half of the team will play there while another half may be playing elsewhere or traveling. The A’s also visit the Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa on February 28. From March 17-21, the A’s will visit Japan as well.
How Do I Get There?
You’ll find Hohokam Stadium in a residential section of Mesa off Center Street, across from the Mesa Cemetary. If you’re coming from Phoenix, you can get there by taking Loop 202 east to the McKellips Road exit and then turning right on North Center Street.
If you’re coming from the south, such as Chandler or Tucson, take Highway 60 to the Country Club Drive exit. Head north on Country Club Drive for 3.4 miles and then turn right on Brown Road. Head towards North Center Street towards the stadium.
If you’d rather take public transportation, the Mesa Downtown Buzz runs a continuous loop that stops at the stadium on gamedays. It also connects to the Valley Metro light rail. The 120 route bus also has a stop at Center and Brown streets, a six-minute walk from the stadium.
There is bike parking outside of Gate D, though you’ll want to make sure you lock it securely as the stadium is not responsible for theft or damage.
How Much Are Tickets?
Planning on going to every Oakland A’s game in spring training? It’s a no-brainer to get the Spring Training Pass. For just $49.99, you get a ticket to every game in Hohokam Stadium. You can even buy up to four passes together, perfect for couples and small groups of friends. It just requires that you download the MLB Ballpark app and purchase the pass through that.
As for individual tickets, they range from $10 to $39 each, depending on the section. The closer the section to the field of play, the more expensive the ticket will be. The most expensive section will be the Infield Box, which is Sections 100-114. The Infield Box Gold will be the top of the line, as they’re the first four rows. The cheapest tickets will be in the outfield berm where you can sit on the lawn.
Children under the age of two are admitted for free and do not need a ticket. There are discounts available for active duty and reserve military members as well as retirees. Discounted tickets are also available for groups of 15 or more.
What Else Do I Need To Know Before I Go?
There is plenty of parking available for $5 and you’ve got 3,000 spaces to choose from. The paved lot is for season ticket holders while other fans can park in the grass fields. If you want to save a couple bucks and don’t mind walking a little bit more, look for people in the surrounding neighborhood offering to park on their property. You can sometimes find a spot for $3 or $4 and it makes exiting after the game much easier.
Stadium gates open two hours before game time. Those who want to get there early for autographs would be wise to get a spot behind the tarp near their dugout in section 113. Sections 115 and 117 also offer prime autograph space. You can also return here after the game for more opportunities or head outside to the team’s clubhouse exit at the end of the first base grandstand. If you’re looking for autographs from visiting players, head to right field and hang out near the fence where players pass by en route to their bus.
If you’re going to bring things with you, make sure you stick with backpacks, bags, or purses that are no bigger than 16 x 16 x 8. Hard coolers and larger bags are prohibited from the stadium.
If it’s important for you to find a seat in the shade, which is certainly a good consideration in Arizona, you’ll find plenty of choices here. Sections 200-207, 209, 211, and 213 are all entirely shaded while most of the seats in sections 208, 210, 212, and 214 are also covered. All games start at 1:05 p.m. and as the day goes on the shade moves to cover the 100-level seats directly behind home plate and along third base.
If you’re looking for special seating or a VIP experience, you’ve got some options. Hyatt Place Patio, located along the third base side, offers various food options and lounge furniture. The Right Field Lounge doesn’t have great views but does offer a catered experience, patio games, and shade.
Fun Ballpark Fare
Since this is an Oakland A’s ballpark, you’ll find plenty of Oakland-inspired concessions to choose from. Look for the Oakland Links concession stand where you can get an Oakland Dog (topped with green chili mac & cheese and bacon bits) or a California Dog (topped with guacamole, tomatoes, and jack cheese).
Ike’s Place, a Bay Area institution, has a stand in the stadium where they offer themed sandwiches such as the Barry Bonds (bacon, Swiss cheese, and turkey), Matt Cain (Godfather sauce, provolone, roast beef, salami, turkey), and Go A’s (roast beef, Godfather sauce, and jack cheese).
Not everything is Oakland-centric when it comes to stadium fare here. You can also get some NY-style pizza and even Chick-fil-A. There is also a beer list that runs the gamut of the usual (Bud, Coors Light) and the crafty (Kona Brewing, New Belgium).
What To Do Before & After Games
The immediate area surrounding the stadium doesn’t offer much but you’re only five minutes away from Main Street in Downtown Mesa. A great way to complete your baseball experience is to visit the Arizona Spring Training Experience and Cactus League Hall of Fame.
Those looking for wider art and museum experiences have plenty of options to choose from, including the Arizona Museum of Natural History, i.d.e.a. Museum, and Mesa Arts Center. Organ Stop Pizza is a Mesa institution where you can enjoy music from their Wurlitzer pipe organ while enjoying a slice. Beer lovers will appreciate the many craft spots here, including Desert Eagle, Lochiel Brewing, and Oro Brewing.
Nearby Away Game Destinations
If you’re looking to switch things up without going very far, you can just head ten minutes west to Sloan Park, spring home of the Chicago Cubs. Twenty minutes away from Hohokam, you’ll find Scottsdale Stadium, where the San Francisco Giants play their home games. It’s also not that much further to Paradise Valley and Tempe to see a few other teams in their spring training homes.
55+ Communities Close By
The Phoenix Area has 60 active adult communities worth considering but there are ten just here in Mesa, making it an ideal spot to take in some spring training while also scouring nearby communities to find out if there’s a match for you. You may find the idea of living just down the road from Hohokam Stadium in retirement sounds appealing,
Las Alegres is an 84-home community for those 55 and older just 15 minutes away from the stadium. The gated community of Verde Groves isn’t that much farther away while Greenfield Glen offers close proximity to the stadium as well as a very affordable lifestyle.
Sloan Park – Mesa
Up until 2014, the Chicago Cubs called Hohokam Stadium home in the spring. That changed when Cubs Park opened in 2014. Meant to mirror the look and feel of Wrigley Field in Chicago, this 15,000-seat stadium is located close to the Red Mountain Freeway and Pima Freeway, a stark contrast to the residential confines of their previous home. In 2015, Sloan Valve Company bought the naming rights to the ballpark, hence Sloan Park.
The Cubs kick off spring training 2019 on February 23 when they host the Milwaukee Brewers. That’s the first of 18 games to be played in Sloan Park. Fans have the chance to take advantage of a few split-squad doubleheaders, including February 25, March 9, and March 19.
How Do I Get There?
If you’re driving from either east or west of Mesa, you’ll want to take Loop 202/Red Mountain Freeway to the Dobson Road exit. Then, head south and right onto West Rio Salado Parkway where you’ll see the stadium up ahead on the right. If you’re coming from north or south of Mesa, take Loop 101/Pima Freeway to the Rio Salado Parkway exit. Head east and you’ll see the stadium pretty soon.
For those who want to take public transit to and from the game, take Valley Metro Rail to the Sycamore/Main St. station and connect with bus route 96, which will drop you three-quarters of a mile from the park.
Those using a rideshare service can use the drop-off and pick-up location just outside of Right Field Gate across Sheffield Avenue.
How Much Are Tickets?
Single-game tickets range between $14 and $47 depending on the section and game. Infield Reserved Seats and Infield Box seats are among the most expensive while the general admission lawn in the outfield berm is the cheapest. Children under two get into the game for free.